Sweet taste preference in binge-eating disorder: A preliminary investigation

Eat Behav. 2018 Jan;28:8-15. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2017.11.005. Epub 2017 Nov 17.


Research suggests that individuals with high liking for sweets are at increased risk for binge eating, which has been minimally investigated in individuals with binge-eating disorder (BED). Forty-one adults (85% female, 83% white) with binge eating concerns completed a sweet taste test and measures of eating disorder behaviors and food cravings. A subset of participants with BED completed an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT; N=21) and a 24-hour dietary recall (N=26). Regression models were used to compare highest sweet preferers (HSP [N=18]) to other sweet preferers (OSP [N=23]) and were used to assess associations between sweet taste preference and outcome variables. Effect sizes (ηp2) for differences between HSP and OSP ranged from small (≤0.01) to large (≥0.24); group differences were statistically nonsignificant except for 24-hour caloric intake (ηp2=0.16, p=0.04), protein intake (ηp2=0.16, p=0.04), and insulin sensitivity index (ηp2=0.24, p=0.04), which were higher in HSP, and postprandial insulin, which was smaller in HSP (ηp2=0.27, p=0.03). Continuous analyses replicated postprandial insulin response. Compared with OSP, HSP reported numerically higher binge-eating frequency (ηp2=0.04), over-eating frequency (ηp2=0.06), and carbohydrate intake (ηp2=0.14), and they exhibited numerically smaller postprandial glucose AUC (ηp2=0.16). Sweet taste preference may have implications for glucose regulation, binge-eating frequency, and nutrient intake in BED.

Keywords: Binge-eating disorder; Blood glucose levels; Food craving; Insulin; Sweet taste.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / epidemiology
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology*
  • Craving
  • Diet Surveys
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sweetening Agents*
  • Taste*
  • Young Adult


  • Sweetening Agents